After our wild day in Magic Kingdom, my siblings and I were wired and ready for more amazingness. What we didn’t realize is that Universal is nothing like Disney World. We noticed it as soon as we came in. The Universal parks felt more theme parkish, they felt trashier, the people who went to them were a little sketchier. Disney was full of toddlers and grandparents, Universal had teens and young adults. There wasn’t an air of imagination about the place. It wasn’t bad, but when we were expecting to find more of Disney at Universal, we were sorely disappointed.
Not that Universal itself was disappointing. I found it quite enjoyable. But for my youngest sisters, Lilac and Saffron, Universal was quite boring.
Men in Black Ride
The first thing we did was the Men in Black ride, one of my all-time favorites. We were in the park pretty early in the morning, so the lines were really short. There was only a five minute wait for the MIB ride. Also, they play some great music around the MIB area so you’ll get so caught up in dancing five minutes feels more like five seconds.
The whole point of the MIB ride is to shoor the aliens as you go along as if you’re training to become part of the MIB team. Even if you’d never seen the movies, the ride is pretty fun. My family split up, since there are seven of us and there were only six spots in each cart. Lilac and Saffron went with our parents and me, Cobalt, and Magenta stuck together.
The ride was so fun. Cobalt and I got pretty competitive with it, trying to see who could shoot more aliens and get more points. Magenta hadn’t seen the MIB movies, so she was just trying to figure out what was happening, but she did a good job holding her own. I beat both of my brother and my sister, so that’s really all that matters.
After MIB we went to Diagon Alley to experience all the Harry Potter magic. Out of all of my family, Lilac is the only one who has not read the Harry Potter series. She’s eight, so some parts might be a little too scary for her liking (dementors and death eaters and such). Lilac really wanted to read Harry Potter before we came to Diagon Alley, but our mom decided it wasn’t worth it.
So Lilac was generally confused and bored the entire time we spent exploring Diagon Alley, which was pretty much all morning. The others though it was pretty cool though. We went into Weasley Wizard Wheezes and Magenta got a Pygmy Puff and named it Bubblegum. We walked through Knockturn Alley and some of the other shops. Really, there’s not much to do in Diagon Alley other than buy things and go on the Gringotts ride. And since we didn’t have any spending money for Universal, we decided to go on the Gringotts ride. After lunch.
Lunch at the Leaky Cauldron
The only place for a meal in Diagon Alley was the Leaky Cauldron, which was perfectly fine by me. Ever since reading the books and hearing about Harry Potter world I wanted to eat at the Leaky Cauldron. And it was just as fantastic as I expected. The food was really good and our server was SO funny. Honestly, he was too personable to be working at Universal. Someone that nice and funny belongs with the Disney staff.
Anyway, our server told us that he needed some help with his Muggle studies. He began making all these jokes about social media, like asking if we snapped after we chatted with someone or if we knew why Muggles kept putting their faces in books or tweeting like birds. He was really great.
I wasn’t too sure about the food because it seemed to be all these strange British foods (no offense, Brits, I just was confused why there were no hamburgers on the menu). My brother was really excited about this because he wanted to have fish and chips. I ended up having this chicken sandwich thing that was actually the best kind of chicken sandwich I had ever had. So it was all good.
Then we got in line for the Gringotts ride. The line was pretty long, though not as long as it had been the first time I went to Disney and Universal. Last time was two summers ago and my friend had taken me. we ended up being there for the opening of Diagon Alley and were one of the first people to get on the ride. We waited about 8 hours for it, but it was worth it.
This time we only waited about 40 minutes. I was sure that my sisters were going to chicken out as soon as we got to the “underground” part of the Gringotts line. Lilac and Saffron were freaking out a little bit, but our parents didn’t let them not go. So we got on the ride, Lilac and Saffron in the row behind me with my parents, Magenta and Cobalt both in seats to my left. This girl I didn’t know who was maybe about 12 or 13 sat next to me. She was so nervous. I tried to calm her down, telling her that it wasn’t a super scary ride.
But first thing there’s this huge drop so I guess I was kind of wrong.
The Gringotts ride is one of my favorite rides of all time. It’s fun, adrenaline filled without being terrifying, and follows the Harry Potter story. I love that Bill Weasley is in it because we don’t get to see a lot of him in the books or movies. And Bellatrix Lestrange is my favoritest villian of all time, so I was alright with her showing up during the ride. Since there’s a storyline it’s more interesting than other rides and rollercoasters.
And though Lilac and Saffron screamed basically the whole time, they claimed that they loved it as soon as we got off.
After Gringotts we went across the street to Florean Fortescues’ for some ice cream. Fortescues has some of the best ice cream in the world 🙂 it’s so good. I got Butterbeer ice cream, of course, because we were in Diagon Alley. Why would you want to get anything else? It was amazing. As we were eating our ice cream we decided as a family that it was probably time to head home. It was only just after one o’clock, but it was really hot and there wasn’t really anything else we wanted to do. We didn’t have park hopper passes, so we couldn’t go on the train or go to Hogsmeade, and we couldn’t go to Marvel island and do my other favorite ride, the Spiderman one. The only thing left to was the Minion ride, but Lilac was the only one who wanted to do that, and the wait was over an hour. So we didn’t. Besides, if she liked Gringotts she would have been bored to death by Minions. So we got in the car and headed home.
Back to the Art of Animation
Saffron had been dying to swim in the pool that was just outside our hotel room at the Art of Animation, and honestly, so had the rest of us. So as soon as we got back we got in our swimsuits and got in.
After a little bit the rest of our extended family members came to join us. My Aunt M, her husband and four boys joined us and my sisters were occupied with all the games our male cousins wanted to play. My mom and Aunt M are close, so they stayed out in the deck chairs and relaxed. My dad talked with his brother and played with his daughters and nephews. My brother was off talking to our grandparents, whom we call Oma and Opa. And I sat in the pool by myself.
It’s an odd thing, being the oldest grandchild. The person nearest to my age is my own brother, so in a way it’s like being at home. But it also feels like I’m babysitting all the time. Aunt M’s oldest is younger than Magenta, about 11, and her youngest is 4. Aunt K only has one daughter who just turned 5. I’m kind of on my own here.
When Aunt K and her daughter Peyton showed up to the pool, I assumed they’d end up playing with all the other kids or talking to the other adults. That’s another hard thing about being the oldest. I would rather talk with the adults but they throw me in with the other children. But surprisingly, Aunt K came right over to talk to me, and Peyton soon showed that she preferred to play with me over all the other cousins. Aunt K seemed caught up in the fact that she was 17 when I was born, and now I’m 17. Peyton liked that I was more like an adult than the others, since she’s basically an only child and adults are what she’s used to. But I would play and mess around more than the other adults.
I was surprised and touched by their attention. I was grateful for the chance to get to know them better. Peton is hilarious and so outgoing. And Aunt K was the youngest adult there; when she talked to me I felt like she honestly wanted to talk to me, not like she felt like she was obligated to.
Despite the fact that Universal was kind of a flop, I still had a fantastic day getting to know my extended family